Troubled teen detained

A 16-year-old boy, who has Aspergers Syndrome, which is a mild form of autism, was detained today for seven months and banned from driving for six years for a series of motoring offences.

Judge Bryan Smyth heard at the Dublin Children's Court that the boy has pleaded guilty to travelling as a passenger in a stolen vehicle, dangerous driving, and possessing a blade as a weapon, and a set of bolt cutters for use in a theft.

The list of offences of began in March last, just days after he had been placed on supervised probation for a motor theft and three counts of drug dealing, where he had been caught in a garda sting operation and sold heroin to an undercover officer.

Judge Bryan Smyth heard that in the early hours of August 1 last the boy had been driving a car at the Straffan Road, in Maynooth Co. Kildare. He drove through a Garda checkpoint into a housing estate. The west Dublin teen then performed a U-turn and came back out “and sped at gardaí.”

He was arrested after a chase. On the evening of August 16 last he was found in possession of a bolt cutters for which he had no reasonable excuse.

On July 8 last, he was a passenger in a stolen car which led gardaí on a pursuit. On March 17 last, he was caught in possession of a knife with a group of teenagers. Judge Smyth noted that the boy had not brought the blade but had found it at the scene.

Defence solicitor Gareth Noble said reports on the boy had shown that he needed to be placed in a secure care facility but the existence of criminal proceedings would act as a barrier.

The teen's parents, who were in court, could not control the teenager, and there were concerns for his safety and that of others, the court heard.

Mr Noble said the boy had Aspergers Syndrome and as result he had problems understanding the consequences of his actions. The teen's parents “were not in a position to contain him or guarantee his personal safety.”

He had been remanded in custody last month and earlier in August he had been going missing for several days. An earlier assessment report from a juvenile detention centre had shown he was at rick of re-offending, which Mr Noble said was borne out by today's case.

Mr Noble said social services had been working with the boy whom he described as vulnerable..

The teen's parents believed the assistance given to their son previously did not have the desired effect and were of the view he needed to be placed in a special care setting.

Mr Noble said that once the case was finalised efforts could be made to provide the troubled teen with the “after care” help he needs, when his sentence has been completed.

Judge Smyth said it was clear that the boy's father and mother, who was in tears, had been “doing their best in difficult circumstances.”

He finalised the case and imposed a seven month term, which was backdated to include the time the boy has spent in custody on remand, followed by seven months post release supervision by the Probation Service. A six-year road ban was also ordered.


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